PEGRAM, Tenn. (WTVF) — Need a reminder of just how cold it was in February? Check your mailbox.
According to NES, people used more energy in February and January. Use was up 16% in February from 2020 and in January it was up 25%.
Many families are already struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic, but there is help in southern Cheatham County at The Ark Community Resource Center.
The organization runs Noah's Closet resale store at 710 Highway 70. It helps bring in money for their utility assistance program. The store sells clothing and furniture.
In 2020, Ark gave out 45% more aid money than in 2019 to families in the community. It helped 33% more families than in 2019.
"We saw people we've never seen before too," said Anne Carty, program director. "There were a lot of new needs. A lot of people just for the first time had to ask for help."
Utility bills have been high throughout the course of the pandemic.
According to the program director, previous balances have been difficult for people to overcome.
"The electric companies were full of grace through the COVID season and I say grace because they didn't cut off [people] or they didn't have to pay their bills, but with the understanding that it was going to come back around....So they have that tag of previous bills that they weren't able to pay plus their current higher bills so it's been rough," Carty said.
Despite COVID-19, donations to the store and food pantry have been generous from people in the community that can afford to give.
"I honestly have been a little bit surprised because I thought the pandemic would make it to where people weren't able to give," said Jenny White, a staff member. "That hasn't been the case. We really have been having people stepping up and helping us."
Noah's Closet specifically accepts adults and kids clothing and small furniture. Without donations, Ark would not be able to help people pay their bills.
"Being able to have people come and shop with us provides so many benefits to the community," White said.